Unfair tax system must be fixed

Level the burden: Andy Slee of SIBA has called for fairness on taxation
Level the burden: Andy Slee of SIBA has called for fairness on taxation

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In a free market economy, Governments help things that are good for society and tax things that aren’t. Life should really be that simple.

Bear that in mind for a few moments while I talk about the sector we are all proud to represent.

Hospitality, including pubs, is the third largest sector for employment in our economy, with almost 1m jobs. It generates £15bn per annum in tax revenues. That’s the equivalent of £1 per second for 480 years. Or looking at things another way, £1 per second back to the reign of Henry VIII and the year Mary was crowned ‘Queen of Scots’. That’s this and every year, not just a one-off.

If this isn’t enough, pubs bring communities together at their very heart – if you like, the original social network. Between us, we also raise £100m a year for charities at a time when many need help the most.

Tangible link

SIBA member brewers have less than a 1% share of the UK beer market and are genuinely independent. We are a unique British manufacturing success and the home of vibrancy and innovation in our national drink. 

If pubs are the heart of what is good locally, where we are allowed to be stocked, SIBA beer provides the only drink with a tangible link back to the pub’s local community. It is a role the 10,000 people employed by SIBA members take seriously and with pride. Between them, our members also run round 2,500 pubs bars and taprooms.

To bring things back to my opening thought. Eight out of 10 drinkers think their local brewery represents a force for good where they live.

While we were grateful for the duty freeze on draught beer over the summer, meaning duty on draught beer is lower than bottles and cans, British brewers still pay tax at five times the rate of online gambling companies who deliver a fraction of benefit to either the exchequer or intangibly to society as a whole.

The world is truly upside down.

Rebalance tax

As a first step, we support the widening of draught duty differential to 20% through a lowering of brewers’ tax burden.

We also support industry calls to continue the current 75% relief in business rates for hospitality businesses into 2024-25. Without good pubs, the prospect of good brewers to supply them is greatly reduced.

All we ask is that the tax burden in society can be rebalanced to ensure everyone pays their fair share of taxation to deliver the much-needed services to get the UK back on its feet.

Pubs and breweries to be truly recognised as a force for good. I’m sure we can all raise a beer to that.

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